Consumers are getting help to avoid bill shock thanks to a 2011 agreement by the major U.S. wireless service providers to a change in the voluntary Consumer Code for Wireless Service sponsored by the industry trade group CTIA – The Wireless Association.

Approximately 97 percent of wireless customers across the country are protected from bill shock. The participating carriers have each committed to sending a series of free usage alerts to their subscribers with wireless plans that impose additional charges for exceeding limits on voice, data or text usage, and to those consumers without an international roaming plan/package who may incur charges when using their wireless devices while traveling abroad.

These alerts, which apply to currently-offered and future domestic voice, data and messaging plans as of October 17, 2011, the date of the Code’s revision, allow subscribers to better monitor and manage the use of their devices and avoid unexpected charges. Carriers must provide the alerts automatically and without charge. Subscribers do not need to take any action to receive the alerts.

The carriers have committed to providing alerts to subscribers when they approach and when they exceed plan allowances and will incur overage charges for voice, data and messaging. Alerts are also sent to consumers without an international roaming plan/package whose devices have registered abroad and who may incur international roaming charges.

Consumer Information and Complaints

Additional information about the CTIA Consumer Code for Wireless Service is available at CTIA.org.

If you have tried to resolve a billing issue with your carrier and cannot reach an acceptable resolution, you may complain to the FCC. You can call our Consumer Center, toll-free, at 1-888-CALL FCC (1-888-225-5322) (voice) or 1-888-TELL-FCC (1-888-835-5322) (TTY), or file a complaint online.

Updated: 
Monday, December 7, 2015 - 1:00pm